Japanese Stocks, Asian Markets Plunge

Posted August 19th, 2011 at 3:40 am (UTC-5)
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Asian stock markets have sustained massive losses during Friday's trading session, a day after stocks plunged on U.S. and European exchanges.

Japan's Nikkei index lost just over two-and-a-half percent at the closing bell, while Taiwan's index plunged more than three-and-a-half percent. Indexes in Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney have lost anywhere between three and six percent by mid-afternoon.

Europe's main indexes were also lower at Friday's opening bell.

The sell-off in Asia and Europe continues Thursday's giant losses on Wall Street. The benchmark Dow Jones, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes all declined between four and five percent. Investors are worried about forecasts of lower economic growth in the United States, including reports about rising inflation and layoffs, plus continuing worries about the European debt crisis.

Oil prices are also retreating because investors expect lower economic growth will cut the demand and price for energy. Oil prices for September delivery dropped to just over $81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for October fell to $106 a barrel.

Another reflection of investor concern is shown by new record high prices for gold which is traditionally seen as a safe haven for investor's money in troubled times.

Investors seeking safety also bought up U.S. treasury bonds. As more investors bought up the U.S. debt, Washington was able to offer lower interest rates for the use of the money. Interest rates on some kinds of U.S. debt fell to record lows.